15 year old girl shot during unrest while conveying Ansarul student corpse
It was like a fierce warfare between members of the Sierra Leone Police Force and youths purporting to be school boys. The scene resulted in the unfortunate shooting of 15 year old Mariatu Laskandrie, who was inside a living room attending to domestic work as the riot intensified.
The ugly scene took place, Wednesday, 13th November, 2013 along the main Bai Bureh Road, via the former AKRAM Metal workshop and Ferry Junction in the east part of the capital of Freetown, during a moment where some bereaved Ansarul Secondary School pupils had converged to convey the corpse of their colleague to the northern provincial town of Lunsar for burial.
The misunderstanding started after bereaved pupils began contending against Police presence around the scene. The pupils were seriously making some reluctant noise that the two buses offered them by government to convey the corpse of their colleague for burial, were not enough, and that they would prefer him buried in Freetown, where all of them will be opportune to pay him his last respects.
But that was not eventually their main contention, rather the Police presence, which were at some distance from the pupils. It was alleged that Pupils commenced the pelting of stones from all angles at the Police. Wasting no time, displaying little patience or professionalism, the Police impatiently started firing sporadically.
At the beginning, the Police shot tear gas to disperse the tense crowd, but in less than few moments as they spread all over the scene, the sound of the guns clearly changed.
A Journalist reporting for local radio, 98.1 FM in Freetown – Alex, was severely manhandled by the Police, having his official recorder and two mobile phones brutally confiscated from him. Alex, attempted to record the “sound bites” alongside the alleged sporadic firing of live arms.
In a very tense and seemingly aggressive way of maintaining peace amongst disgruntled school goers, a disturbed traveler, Amadu Sow, stressed that the Police need some regular and special training on how to professionally quell such minor situations and riots before they come so serious and aggravated.
Headed by the armed officer was, Assistant Superintendent of Police for Kissy Division – Musa Bandabla. In an on-the-spot interview as the riot intensified, the Inspector challenged that his men had to protect themselves for the uncontrolled mixed crowd. It was actually not easy for both sides (Police/purported pupils).
The intensified situation forced Ahmadiyya Muslim Secondary School authority to put a lock down on the school, where the Police fired tear gas, the senior Teachers complained. But in reality, many of the faces contending and stoning the Police were very far from School pupils, even though some young and teenage faces were part of the stoning and confrontation.
Eyewitnesses, including the victim, Mariatu Laskandrie, accounted that Mariatu was inside a living room attending to domestic work, when she felt the shot in her right leg, very close to her hip.
While the 15 inch deep wound was being stitched, the medical attendant at the Yangadie Memorial Clinic said the wound was not from a tear gas shot, but a live bullet.
Visiting the isolated scene where the 15 year old was allegedly reported shot, a hole indicating a bullet chip was discovered on a freezer inside the room and bursting a wall.
Mariatu is currently undergoing treatment.
Attempts to burn the nearest Police Post at PWD junction were overturned by the Police, whose quick arrival to protecting the Police Post left some live gun shots in the air.
Many have condemned the actions of the Police as unprofessional and uncalled for and citizens are gradually expressing worries and concerns over the persistent trend of shootings and killings of innocent lives, over the past couple of months.
By Alie Mozart Sesay
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